Cache is close to the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) Rushcliffe Halt Station, which is between the villages of East Leake and Gotham. The road bridge over the railway provides excellent views of the heritage line and station platform. Safe parking is available within 100M of the cache at the vehicle entrance to the station (co-ordinates given), which is also a service bus pull-in and entrance to British Gypsum works, so please park considerately down towards the station entrance gates. The road is busy and has a sharp bend at one end of the bridge so take extra care if accompanied by young children and/or dogs. Click SideTracked for more information on the series.
GCRN provides over 10 miles of ex-main line heritage railway running through South Nottinghamshire and North-West Leicestershire. Services are operated by historic diesel and steam locomotives from the main base at Ruddington (adjacent to Rushcliffe Country Park) and serves Rushcliffe Halt at East Leake. Many services are extended to Loughborough, though there is no station at Loughborough at present, but the journey does offer a picturesque ride, featuring spectacular views of the Soar Valley, passing through some of the most varied scenery in the region.
The line was opened as the Manchester-Sheffield-London (Marylebone) main line of the GCR on 15th March 1899. The route was built in a southwards direction, through the Nottinghamshire coalfields to the city itself. The GC built the impressive "Nottingham Victoria" station in the heart of the city, carving out a huge cutting to accommodate the station (with both north and south approaches in tunnel). Surprisingly, traces of the station still exist today, but are often unrecognised: The Victoria Shopping Centre was built on the site of the old Victoria station itself - a closer look shows the clock tower to be a lot older since it is the original station clock tower. Also, the north tunnel portal can still be seen from the north car park, accessible from Mansfield Road.
The British Gypsum plant at East Leake is served by incoming gypsum freight trains primarily from Drax Power Station, where gypsum is a by-product of the process which cleans-up flue gas in coal-fired power stations. The gypsum freight trains divert onto the GCRN line from the Midland Main Line at Loughborough. GCRN is the only Heritage Railway in the UK to support a regular freight flow, which significantly contributes to a reduction of HGVs on local roads.
The old East Leake station platform still exists to the south of Rushcliffe Halt - GCRN would like eventually to re-open the station for passenger foot traffic.
The GCR finally closed as a through route on 6th September 1966. While it remained serving the former ordnance depot at Ruddington until the early 1980's, no passenger services used the line. Once the ordnance depot closed, the railway became disused until bought by enthusiasts who volunteer their time and re-opened almost exactly 100 years after it's first opening.